The Most Difficult Sport: Ranking the Ultimate Athletic Challenge

Choose the Game you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Nov 23, 2023 06:38)
Are you ready to dive into the ultimate debate of physical prowess and mental fortitude? Welcome to the StrawPoll arena, where we are hosting the grand ranking of "What is the most difficult sport?". Thousands of sports enthusiasts like you have voted for their favorites, and now it's your turn to have your say! Will you back the sheer strength of weightlifting, the lightning-fast reflexes of table tennis, or the strategic brilliance of chess? Or perhaps you'll champion an underdog and suggest a missing option? The choice is yours to make, your voice to be heard. So gear up, flex those voting muscles, and join the conversation as we uncover the true champions of the sporting world. The countdown has begun, the crowd is roaring, and the victory podium awaits - are you in?

What Is the Most Difficult Sport?

  1. 1
    It requires exceptional physical ability, strength, and flexibility. Gymnasts must perform various acrobatic routines on different apparatus such as the uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise.
    Gymnastics is a captivating and artistic sport that combines athleticism, grace, and strength. It involves performing a variety of sequences and individual skills, showcasing flexibility, balance, coordination, and acrobatic abilities on different apparatus such as the floor, uneven bars, balance beam, and vault.
    • Apparatus: Floor, uneven bars, balance beam, vault, and more.
    • Disciplines: Artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline, and tumbling.
    • Skill Components: Flexibility, balance, strength, endurance, and acrobatics.
    • Events: All-around, individual apparatus, team competitions, and rhythmic routines.
    • Competitive Levels: Recreational, national, international, and Olympic.
  2. 2
    It is a physically demanding sport that requires a high level of endurance, speed, agility, and strength. Boxers must have fast reflexes, good coordination, and the ability to take a punch.
    Boxing is a popular combat sport that involves two opponents engaging in a match using their fists. It is often regarded as one of the most advanced martial arts due to its focus on strategy, technique, and physical conditioning.
    • Gloves: Boxers wear padded gloves to protect their hands and reduce the risk of injury.
    • Weight Classes: Competitors are divided into different weight classes to ensure fair matches based on similar physical attributes.
    • Rounds: Matches are typically divided into rounds, with each round lasting a specified duration (usually three minutes in professional boxing) and a short break in between.
    • Scoring: Boxing matches are scored based on effective punches, defense, ring generalship, and overall dominance.
    • Techniques: Boxing utilizes a variety of punches including jabs, hooks, uppercuts, and crosses, along with defensive moves like slips, ducks, and blocks.
  3. 3
    It is a physically demanding sport that requires a high level of strength, agility, and endurance. Wrestlers must use various techniques to pin their opponent to the mat or force them to submit.
    Wrestling is a physically demanding sport that involves two competitors engaging in close combat with the goal of overpowering and pinning their opponent to the ground. It is characterized by a combination of technique, strength, agility, and mental toughness.
    • Weight Classes: Wrestlers are divided into weight classes, allowing for fair competition based on size and strength.
    • Rules and Scoring: Wrestling matches are governed by specific rules that determine legality of moves, and points are awarded for various actions like takedowns, escapes, and pinning the opponent.
    • Technical Skills: Successful wrestlers possess a repertoire of techniques including throws, takedowns, holds, and moves that require immense technique, timing, and skill.
    • Physical Conditioning: Wrestlers require exceptional physical conditioning to endure intense matches that often last for several minutes, involving constant movement, explosive bursts of energy, and maintaining stamina.
    • Individual Sport: Wrestling is primarily an individual sport, with a focus on individual performance, strategy, and mental preparation.
  4. 4
    Ice Hockey
    Fabien Perissinotto · CC BY-SA 4.0
    It is a fast-paced, physical sport that requires a high level of skill, speed, and endurance. Players must skate, shoot, pass, and check while wearing heavy equipment and competing on a slippery surface.
    Ice hockey is a fast-paced and thrilling sport played on ice, involving two teams of skaters who compete to score goals by shooting a small rubber puck into the opponent's net. It is known for its physicality, speed, and skillful plays, making it one of the most exciting sports to watch and play.
    • Number of players: Each team typically has six players on the ice, including a goaltender.
    • Equipment: Players wear ice skates, helmets, padded gloves, shoulder pads, elbow pads, shin guards, and use a stick to control the puck.
    • Rink dimensions: Ice hockey is played on a rectangular rink that is approximately 200 feet long and 85 feet wide.
    • Duration of play: A standard ice hockey game consists of three 20-minute periods, with stoppages in play for penalties, goals, and intermissions.
    • Penalties: Players can be sent to the penalty box for various infractions, leading to power-play opportunities for the opposing team.
    Ice Hockey in other rankings
  5. 5
    Rock Climbing
    Chris · CC BY 2.0
    It requires a high level of physical and mental strength, endurance, and agility. Climbers must navigate challenging routes on rock faces, often at high elevations and with little to no safety equipment.
    Rock climbing is a challenging and adrenaline-pumping hobby that involves scaling natural or artificial rock formations using specialized equipment and techniques. Climbers use their physical strength, mental focus, and problem-solving skills to navigate the obstacles and reach the summit or endpoint of a climbing route.
    • Physical Fitness: Requires high levels of strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance.
    • Mental Agility: Demands concentration, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
    • Technical Gear: Utilizes specialized equipment like harnesses, helmets, ropes, carabiners, and climbing shoes.
    • Grades: Routes are graded on difficulty, ranging from easy (5.0) to extremely challenging (5.15).
    • Types of Climbing: Includes bouldering, sport climbing, traditional climbing, and alpine climbing.
    Rock Climbing in other rankings
  6. 6
    Water Polo
    Marie-Lan Nguyen · CC BY 3.0

    Water Polo

    William Wilson
    It is a physically demanding sport that requires a high level of endurance, strength, and speed. Players must swim, pass, and shoot while treading water for extended periods of time.
    Water polo is a team sport played in water, primarily in a swimming pool. It involves two teams of seven players each, who try to score goals by throwing a ball into the opposing team's goal. Players move by swimming and treading water, constantly passing the ball and working together to create scoring opportunities. The game combines elements of swimming, basketball, and soccer, requiring both physical endurance and tactical skills.
    • Number of Players: Seven players per team
    • Playing Surface: Swimming pool, typically 25-30 meters long and 20-25 meters wide
    • Game Duration: Four quarters, each lasting eight minutes
    • Goal Size: Approximately 3 meters wide and 0.9-1.2 meters high
    • Ball: Water polo ball, similar to a soccer ball but with a softer grip
    Water Polo in other rankings
  7. 7
    It requires a high level of physical and mental ability, balance, and coordination. Surfers must paddle out to waves, catch them, and perform various maneuvers while maintaining control of their board.
    Surfing is a water sport where individuals ride on the face of a breaking wave towards the shore. Surfers use a surfboard, typically made of foam or fiberglass, to navigate the waves. It is considered one of the most exciting activities as it provides an exhilarating experience and a close connection with the power of the ocean.
    • Surfboard: A specialized board used for surfing, typically made of foam or fiberglass.
    • Breaking Waves: Surfers ride on the face of breaking waves, which provide the necessary energy and momentum.
    • Balance and Coordination: Surfing requires a good sense of balance and coordination to maintain control and stability on the board while riding the waves.
    • Paddling: Surfers use their arms and hands to paddle and catch the waves, helping them gain speed and positioning.
    • Takeoff: The process of transitioning from paddling to actually riding the wave, requiring precise timing and positioning.
  8. 8
    It is a multi-discipline sport that requires a high level of physical ability, strength, and endurance. Athletes must compete in ten different events, including running, jumping, throwing, and hurdling.
    The decathlon is an athletic event in the Olympic Games that consists of ten track and field disciplines. It is considered one of the most challenging sports, as it requires a combination of strength, speed, endurance, coordination, and technical skills.
    • Events: 10
    • Disciplines: 100m, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 400m, 110m Hurdles, Discus Throw, Pole Vault, Javelin Throw, 1500m
    • Scoring: The points earned in each discipline are based on a scoring table, with higher performances receiving more points.
    • Duration: Generally lasts for two consecutive days.
    • Physical Demands: Requires a high level of fitness, including strength, speed, agility, and endurance.
  9. 9
    It requires a high level of physical ability, balance, and coordination. Skiers must navigate challenging slopes and terrain while performing various maneuvers at high speeds.
    Skiing is a winter sport that involves sliding down snow-covered slopes on skis. It is a popular recreational activity as well as a competitive sport. Skiers wear special boots attached to long, narrow skis that allow them to glide over the snow. Skiing can be enjoyed on various types of terrain, including groomed slopes at ski resorts, backcountry trails, and even in terrain parks with jumps and obstacles.
    • Equipment: Skis, boots, poles, and appropriate clothing and protective gear.
    • Technique: Skiers use various techniques involving shifting body weight and making turns with the skis to control speed and direction.
    • Types of Skiing: Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, ski jumping, and more.
    • Alpine Skiing: Focused on downhill descents, typically in ski resorts, with different styles like slalom, giant slalom, super-G, or downhill skiing.
    • Cross-Country Skiing: Involves traveling across flat or undulating terrain using a technique that propels skiers forward.
  10. 10
    It is a physically demanding sport that requires a high level of strength, endurance, and speed. Players must run, tackle, pass, and kick while competing for possession of the ball.
    Rugby is a full-contact team sport known for its physicality and strategic gameplay. It originated in England in the early 19th century and has since gained popularity worldwide. The objective of the game is to score more points than the opposing team by carrying, passing, or kicking an oval-shaped ball to the opponents' goal area, while also defending their own. Rugby is played with different variations, including Rugby Union, Rugby League, and Rugby Sevens, each with its own set of rules and regulations.
    • Ball: Rugby balls are oval-shaped and made of leather or synthetic material, designed for passing and kicking.
    • Teams: A rugby team typically consists of 15 players in Rugby Union, 13 players in Rugby League, and 7 players in Rugby Sevens.
    • Scoring: Points can be scored through tries (touching the ball down in the opponent's goal area), conversions, penalty kicks, and drop goals.
    • Positions: Rugby positions include forwards (e.g., props, hooker, locks) and backs (e.g., scrum-half, fly-half, wingers).
    • Scrums: Scrums are a method of restarting play after certain rule infringements, involving players from both teams binding together and contesting for the ball.

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Ranking factors for difficult sport

  1. Physical fitness
    This includes the level of strength, agility, coordination, and overall conditioning required to perform in the sport. Sports that require intense physical effort, like rugby or basketball, would rank high in terms of difficulty.
  2. Skill level
    The ability to perform specific actions or movements with precision and accuracy. Sports that require complex and specialized skills, like gymnastics or ice skating, would rank high.
  3. Mental toughness
    The psychological demands of a sport, including the ability to maintain focus, handle pressure, and make split-second decisions under stress. Sports that require intense concentration and mental stamina, like golf or archery, would rank high.
  4. Strategy and tactics
    The degree to which a sport involves planning, decision-making, and adapting to changing circumstances. Sports with complex strategies and tactical decision-making, like football or chess, would rank high in difficulty.
  5. Competitiveness
    The level of competition within the sport, including the density of high-level athletes and the level of parity among competitors. Sports with a higher degree of competitiveness would be more difficult, as success becomes harder to achieve.
  6. Technicality
    The level of detail and specificity in the rules and required techniques of a sport. Sports that have intricate rules and require precise execution, like swimming or gymnastics, would rank high in terms of difficulty.
  7. Complexity
    The number of variables and factors that must be considered, managed, and controlled during a performance or competition. This includes factors such as weather conditions, equipment, and opponents. Sports with many variables to manage, like sailing or auto racing, would rank high in difficulty.
  8. Injury risk
    The likelihood of serious injury in a sport, both acute and cumulative. Sports with a high potential for injury, like football or hockey, would rank high in terms of difficulty due to the physical and mental challenges associated with overcoming and preventing injury.
  9. Training and preparation
    The amount of time and effort required to attain a high level of proficiency in a sport. Sports that require many hours of practice and dedication to master, like gymnastics or ballet, would rank high in terms of difficulty.
  10. Access and resources
    The availability and affordability of facilities, equipment, training, and coaching for a particular sport. Sports that have limited access or require significant investment, like equestrian sports or skiing, may be more difficult for participants to excel in due to these barriers.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult sport. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or Game is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 217 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Movers & Shakers

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Game once every 24 hours. The rank of each Game is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most difficult sport

Sports are an integral part of our lives, and each sport comes with its own unique challenges. From endurance to strength, every sport requires a different skill set, making it difficult to determine which sport is the most challenging. However, there are certain sports that are known for their intense physical demands and mental toughness, making them the most difficult among all. In this article, we will explore the world of sports and try to determine which sport takes the crown for being the most challenging of them all. So, join us as we delve into the world of sports and explore the intricacies of some of the most challenging sports out there.

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